Used test: Ford Fiesta vs Hyundai i20 vs Renault Clio

The Ford Fiesta is one of our favourite used small cars – but does it still make sense as a diesel? We put it up against the stylish Renault Clio and frugal Hyundai i20 to find out...

Used test: Ford Fiesta vs Hyundai i20 vs Renault Clio

Our Verdict

If cost is all, the Hyundai i20 is undoubtedly worth a look. There’s simply no arguing with its super-low purchase price, while its real-world economy is the most impressive of the three and that longer warranty means you’re covered for certain breakdowns where you won’t be with the other two cars here. There are other benefits to the i20, too, like the impressive standard specification, and an interior that’s easy to get on with.

However, while it might look good on paper, in real life, the i20 falls short of its rivals here. The noisy engine, unsupportive seats and jittery ride all make it the least comfortable car to spend time in, while the imprecise steering means it isn’t all that pleasant to drive.

By comparison, the Ford Fiesta is an absolute hoot to drive. And what’s more, it’s extremely comfortable, thanks to its beautifully sorted driving position. It’s also cheap to maintain and to repair, and looks like it’ll be the most reliable of the bunch.

Lots to like, then, and it’s no wonder the Fiesta has its best-seller position. The problem is, it’s best served with a petrol engine; the diesel under this one’s bonnet lets it down with a heap of engine noise and a disappointing shortage of low-down torque, both of which make it frustrating to have to use.

By contrast, the Renault Clio has a delightful diesel. It’s the smoothest engine here, but it’s also gutsy enough to be useful around town, and turns in very respectable efficiency figures to boot, both on paper and in the real world. It’s also one of the safest used small cars out there, and comes with a good slug of equipment.

True, it can’t match the Fiesta for ride comfort or for driving excitement, but it isn’t so far off as to be a disaster. And it is the priciest car here, but we think it’s worth the extra. If you’re in need of a used diesel small car, then, and you can stretch to a Clio, it’s the one to have.

Read our review of the all-new Ford Fiesta

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Also consider:

1st – Renault Clio


Used test: Ford Fiesta vs Hyundai i20 vs Renault Clio

For Smooth and punchy diesel engine; light yet precise steering; good economy and safety; lengthy list of standard equipment

Against Unsettled ride; limited rear visibility; expensive to buy

Verdict One of the best used diesel small cars you can buy

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Renault Clio review

Find a used Renault Clio for sale in the What Car? Classifieds

2nd – Ford Fiesta


Used test: Ford Fiesta vs Hyundai i20 vs Renault Clio

For Agile handling; comfortable ride; superb driving position; cheap to maintain

Against Clattery, inflexible engine; fussy dashboard layout; stingy standard equipment

Verdict The best of the three to drive, but engine and equipment disappoint

Rated 3 out of 5

Read the full used Ford Fiesta review

Find a used Ford Fiesta for sale here

3rd – Hyundai i20


Used test: Ford Fiesta vs Hyundai i20 vs Renault Clio

For Cheapest to buy; generous standard spec; simple control layout; good real-world economy

Against Noisy engine; least comfortable seats; poor ride; inconsistent steering

Verdict Low price and comprehensive equipment only partially compensate for its shortcomings

Rated 3 out of 5

Read the full used Hyundai i20 review

Find a used Hyundai i20 for sale in the What Car? Classifieds

Specifications: Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 Expression+

Engine size 1.5-litre diesel

List price when new £14,095

Price today £7000

Power 89bhp

Torque 162lb ft

0-60mph 11.4sec

Top speed 106mph

Fuel economy 78.5mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 90g/km

Specifications: Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi 95 Econetic Style 5dr

Engine size 1.6-litre diesel

List price when new £15,195

Price today £6500

Power 94bhp

Torque 147lb ft

0-60mph 12.1sec

Top speed 106mph

Fuel economy 85.6mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 87g/km

Specifications: Hyundai i20 1.1 CRDi 75 Active 5dr

Engine size 1.1-litre diesel

List price when new £12,740

Price today £5000

Power 73bhp

Torque 133lb ft

0-60mph 13.9sec

Top speed 96mph

Fuel economy 74.3mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 99g/km

Price today is based on a 2013 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing